Posted by Dale Buss on November 28, 2011 05:16 PM
General Motors has to be very, very careful about the Chevrolet Volt and the issue of fires. This isn't the time to be standing on facts alone about the association between Volt and a fire or two; it's a time for GM's brand managers to leapfrog the realities and get a handle on consumer perceptions and media oversimplification. Otherwise, this mini-tempest could threaten to short-circuit America's electric-car revolution before the first skirmish is over.
That's why GM made the right move on Monday in announcing that it would provide free non-Volt loaner vehicles to Chevrolet Volt owners, to offer them "peace of mind" as federal safety regulators investigate fires that have occured in the plug-in hybrid's battery pack after crash testing. After federal officials opened an investigation last week into the risk of fire in Volts that have been involved in severe crashes, GM wanted to be proactive about the whole issue — to go significantly beyond what it's been doing so far, which is simply denying that there's a particular fire problem with Volt.
“The Volt is a five-star safety car. Even though no customer has experienced in the real world what was identified in this latest testing of post-crash situations, we're taking critical steps to ensure customer satisfaction and safety,” Mark Reuss, GM's North America president, said in a statement. “Our customers' peace of mind is too important to us for there to be any concern or any worry. This technology should inspire confidence and pride, not raise any concern or doubt."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2011 04:59 PM
"Fire" and "automobile" are two things that consumers don't want to hear in the same sentence, much less see on the same page. But Chevrolet, Nissan and other automotive brands still have a way to go to make an air-tight case that problems with fires don't accompany the use of their vehicles or, more broadly, EV-automotive technology.
The federal government has announced that it will do more testing of the lithium-ion battery systems in the Volt after a recent fire at a government testing center in which a Volt battery system, damaged in a crash test, caught fire. And last week, Duke Energy asked its North Carolina customers who own electric-car charging stations to stop using the products after a fire last month at a house that had a station. The utility didn't necessarily implicate the charging station in the blaze, but it is the focus of the investigation. And in any event, it's going to make future electric-car considerers just a tad more cautious.
Everyone involved is quick to say that there's no reason to believe electric cars are more dangerous than conventional gasoline vehicles. But it's understandable that the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would want to make absolutely sure EVs don't involve higher risks of fire, especially given the huge push that the Obama administration has been making to get Americans to buy the vehicles.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 8, 2011 01:33 PM
Amid persistent signs that Americans still aren't exactly enamored of any kind of electrified vehicle, General Motors has been telling us that U.S. consumers really do want its Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid — there just weren't enough of them available to prove that thesis with actual purchases.
But today that is changing in a big way: GM is finally authorizing its dealers to sell the "demo" model of the Volt on their showroom floors if they want. The idea is that by doubling the number of Volts available for sale in the U.S. to 4,100, from the current 1,800, Chevrolet and its dealers finally will be able to satisfy a tremendous "pent-up demand" for the trailblazing vehicle.
Maybe. The company cites survey showing that 72 percent of Americans who would like to buy a Volt haven't bought one because not enough are available. And indeed, GM has only gradually ramped up production of Volt at a Detroit factory. And it has restricted consumer availability of those that were built because GM wanted dealers to keep at least one demonstration model on the showroom floor, not sell it. GM figured that would be a good way to make sure car shoppers were being familiarized with Volt and its groundbreaking idea of locomotion — as well as to help bring in buyers for other fuel-efficient Chevrolet models such as the conventionally powered Cruze.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 8, 2011 08:55 AM
Occupy Wall Street should be happy with news that Wall Street bonuses will be way down this year and some success for Bank Transfer Day, while protesters in New York will be serenaded by Crosby & Nash in free concert today.
American and Alaska airlines complete world's first commercial biofuel flights.
American Express lures digital commerce startups with $100M funds.
Australia passes carbon tax.
Best Buy refocuses global expansion plans in new strategy.
Carlos Slim draws protests in Mexico by offering free TV on the web.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 2, 2011 06:31 PM
All-electric vehicles in U.S. auto showrooms are becoming the equivalent of prune juice in the supermarket aisle: You've got to make it available for certain individuals and apparently for the overall health of the planet, but don't expect a lot of genuine excitement about its purchase. And don't expect it to pay the bills.
Ford is about to find out just what a yawn EVs are to most American consumers, now that it has priced its new Focus Electric and has begun taking orders for the car. The sticker is $39,995, identical to the once-reduced price of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid, and $3,900 more than the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The purchaser of each vehicle is welcome to capitalize on the generosity of the American taxpayer to the tune of federal incentives up to $7,500.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2011 08:59 AM
Alfa Romeo launches Aquabatics social campaign.
AOL plays catch-up in mobile.
Buick is paying dividends for GM.
CNN said to be revamping its morning lineup.
DirecTV takes dispute with Fox to the web.
Disney leads big brands on apps front, while Disney-ABC extends Netflix and Amazon content deals.
DreamWorks' Puss in Boots wins the weekend box office by a whisker.
Facebook changes mean "reach" is up but "frequency" is down.Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on October 28, 2011 12:31 PM
Released last week, The Revenge of the Electric Car "presents the recent resurgence of electric vehicles as seen through the eyes of four pioneers of the EV revolution." The film focuses on General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla Motors as all three "race each other to create the first, best, and most publicly accepted electric cars for the new car market."
But is the film an endeavor in academics, as the electric car market for which these brands are racing is crumbling.Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on September 8, 2011 11:01 AM
China auto dealers are approaching slumping sales with aggressive marketing tactics. How aggressive? Well, at one VW China (大众汽车) showroom in the oil town of Daqing, in northern Heilongjiang province, dealers pulled out all the stops, and clothing, to attract buyer eyeballs.Continue reading...